Is the bearing of a child a parent's license to get creative with the name? Word On Fire contributor Ellyn von Huben examines a recent news item about a child's controversial name change, and what could be avoided if parents just give the process a little more thought, and perhaps a little more saintly intervention.
“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” could have been a plea that Adrian Williams would make to both his mother and the Wisconsin State Appeals Court when he petitioned to change his name to Romanceo Sir Tasty Maxibillion back in 1995. The State of Wisconsin didn’t buy it; though it actually could have made him easier to find as a parolee (did I mention he was incarcerated at the time?). His mother’s response? Maternal intuition leads me to think that she would also take umbrage at the choice. “Sir Tasty,” as I like to call him, asked the court to allow him a name that is unique, creative, and the embodiment of his aspirations. In this respect, the criminal’s mind was working with thought processes not unlike many soon-to-be parents preparing for a new arrival.
Talk of the trend of modern creative naming has come into prominence once more in the news in the past few weeks. A judge in Tennessee disallowed the name Messiah for a young child. What received a lot of attention was judicial over-involvement and the judge’s decision to order that Messiah not be the child’s legal name. Judge Lu Ann Ballew became involved because this was a case of parental indecision on what should be the baby’s surname. I saw little outrage over the tragedy of the child’s unmarried parents haggling over choice of surname — a sorry intimation of discord to come in his young life. In the course of this decision the judge decided that Messiah was not an appropriate first name. Many people have been shocked and irate with the judge’s pronouncement that Messiah is an offensive name, in that it only belongs to Jesus Christ, thus raising this essentially to another debate about Church/State separation. (To add to the Judge Ballew’s opinion, I would interject that “Messiah” might also be a name that is offensive to Jews who believe the Messiah is still to come.)
I was more shocked to read that “Messiah” is fourth among the fastest trending names in popularity according to the U. S. Social Security Administration. There were close to 800 little Messiahs born in the United States in 2012. So, while one child has been spared an unusual and inappropriate name, this well-publicized case has made no contribution to pushing back the trend of unfortunate names. American freedom allows parents to pull out all the stops when giving one of their first and most permanent gifts to their children. Many parents feel no constraints when deciding baby names. Even our constitution’s “Title of Nobility clause” has not interfered with the Princes, Barons, and Queenies that have populated hospital nurseries...
What's in a name? Ask any expectant parent and you'll hear: a whole lot of pressure. Moms and dads want to be unique but not bizarre, creative but not pretentious, memorable but not laughable. Understanding that her own pregnant sister is traversing these hotly debated waters, Kerry Trotter has found some saints whose names are due for a popular comeback.
Nothing gets us folks here at Word on Fire more excited than the birth of a baby. This is why we are especially thrilled that our own video producer, Megan Fleischel, will be welcoming her third child any day now. Megan happens to be my sister, and she and her husband, Jamie, have kept both the gender of their little one, and what they will call him or her, under wraps.
On the off chance that they aren’t settled on a name, I’ve taken the liberty of offering some suggestions of monikers that are inspiring, original or just plain awesome. Not content with the Top 10 trendy types, and tired of the swinging hipster pendulum to random silent letter territory, I give you these gems. Since we are a Catholic organization, I made sure that these were names of saints, too. If they don’t shelve their own naming plans for one of these, I will be offended.
In alphabetical order, my suggestions:
Abundius — If baby Fleischel winds up a boy, this would be an obvious pick. Both strong and memorable, it has that Latin suffix that screams, “I’m important, and my dad studied the Classics in college.” But moreover, in a twist of nomenclature irony, there is little known about him. Abundius? Not so abundant. Abundius Fleischel, then, has the liberty of writing his own story without anyone too pious to live up to. Score...